ExpertFlyer Discovers the Three Most Important Words Related to Hidden City Airline Ticketing: “Don’t Do It”

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Travel Expert and Author, Bill McGee Explains Why Travelers Need to Avoid Using This Obscure Way of Saving Money on Air Travel

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Bill McGee, travel expert and author of "Attention All Passengers," explains why dabbling in Hidden City Ticketing is a dangerous idea.

The penalties airlines can implement are absolutely draconian, including banning you from the airline for life, charging your credit card, wiping out your frequent flyer account, and even initiating legal action.

Savvy frequent travelers who think they’ve cracked the code for finding lower cost airfares through the use of an obscure process known as “hidden city ticketing” may want to heed air travel expert Bill McGee’s warning…Don’t Do It! Hidden city ticketing, in simple terms, is the process of booking a ticket from Point A to Point C, with a layover in Point B. It all seems innocent enough until we discover that Point B is the passenger’s final destination, not Point C. The ticket for the remaining leg of the journey is simply torn up and tossed in the trash. While this process could save travelers hundreds of dollars, Bill McGee says it could have serious consequences including a ban from the airline, loss of frequent flyer miles, and even legal action.

ExpertFlyer.com went One-on-One with Bill McGee, author of Attention All Passengers, to gain insight to this under-the-radar process after Lufthansa made recent headlines with a lawsuit against one of its passengers for using the cost-saving technique. “I can’t stress enough that these are practices you do not want to engage in,” Mr. McGee explains. “The penalties airlines can implement are absolutely draconian, including banning you from the airline for life, charging your credit card, leave you stranded in the middle of your trip, wiping out your frequent flyer account, and even initiating legal action.”

According to McGee, details of actions airlines can take against passengers are buried deep within their contracts, which often exceed 100 pages and provide explanations that are nebulous at best. By contrast, the European Union implemented a passenger bill-of-rights in 2005, which gives any passenger traveling throughout Europe, regardless of nationality, written rights and guarantees, such as meal vouchers for cancelled or delayed flights due to mechanical issues, for example.

“At ExpertFlyer, we have always believed that knowledge is power, which includes understanding the consequences associated with certain actions,” explains Chris Lopinto, president of ExpertFlyer.com. “Sometimes, having a clear understanding of what not to do to avoid penalties or legal action can offer the best value to passengers.”

My flight was delayed, cancelled, or I got bumped. What am I entitled to?
According to McGee, what you’re entitled to if you are bumped, delayed, or your flight was cancelled depends on how much you paid for your ticket and how you purchased it. Despite popular belief, all passengers traveling in coach are not created equal. Algorithms that are built into booking codes tell the airlines your “true value” as a passenger. While that may not seem important at first glance, it could determine the quality of accommodation you receive when a flight is delayed or cancelled. For example, someone paying $500.00 for a ticket from Los Angeles to Chicago purchased through the airlines may be offered a meal voucher and hotel accommodation, while another passenger who found a better deal at $250.00 via an OTA may spend the night on an airport bench.

McGee says that understanding your rights under the airline contract of carriage gives you greater leverage in the end. “Throw the language in their contracts back at them as much as you can,” he says. “When you're asking for accommodations due to a delayed flight or canceled flight, tell the representative that their ‘contract of carriage’ says they may provide X, Y, and Z. For example, ask them for a meal voucher. Don’t wait for them to offer one to you. Chances are you're going to do better than the person that just takes what they get.”

To learn more about Hidden City Airline Ticketing, listen to the podcast with travel expert and author Bill McGee at ExpertFlyer’s blog.

About Bill McGee
William J. McGee worked as an airline operations manager for several years and is the former Editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter. He has served as a consumer advocate for airline passengers before Congress, the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Aviation Administration. His work about airlines and travel has won numerous awards and has been published in Consumer Reports, USA Today, Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times, and many other publications. His airline industry exposé Attention All Passengers is available in print, Kindle, and audio versions on Amazon.

He also is the author of the novel Half the Child.

About ExpertFlyer.com
Each month, ExpertFlyer's One-on-One blog goes face-to-face with the travel industry's leading decision makers to discuss and address topics relevant to many of today's business and frequent travelers.

ExpertFlyer.com was conceived and created by an eclectic team consisting of a veteran elite tier frequent flyer, an airline captain and corporate travel manager, and information technology professionals to deliver a 24/7 real time powerful air travel information service. The company provides its subscribers and corporate travel managers alike with a complete, concise and efficient way to access the ever-changing details of worldwide air travel information. For more information, please visit expertflyer.com.

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